Category Archives: 1900s to 1920s

The Interior Belt in Vintage Styles

Janet Arnold’s illustration of the interior of a woman’s dress, circa 1896. From Patterns of Fashion 2. Notice the belt, attached only at the center back seam.

If you are trying to reproduce a vintage garment, you need all the information you can get. Information about how a vintage dress looks on the inside is invaluable, and I don’t know of any source better than the series of Patterns of Fashion books by the late Janet Arnold

… even when you have primary source information, like this photograph.

Fashion Photograph from 1896. Met Museum. We can see from the photo that the skirt at left is probably flat-lined — those tell-tale wrinkles would have been omitted in a drawing.

It’s better than a drawing, but the answer to “how did they do that?” requires inside information.

Cream brocade gown from the House of Worth, 1896. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Museums and books sometimes provide close up photos showing details of construction …

Detail of Worth gown from 1896, showing several rows of cartridge pleating on the sleeve and lace-shaped beading on the brocade bodice. Met Museum.

But to reproduce a vintage garment and have it “behave” properly, we need to know where the seams (and the bones) are, how the garment was lined, where the hidden closures were located, what made those sleeves stand up like that***, etc. Also, sometimes we discover a “trick” that made the garment easier to put on, or made it fit better. For costume purposes, we don’t need to follow the original slavishly (sometimes all those difficult hidden closures are not practical for a costume,) but we can make informed decisions.

One device that I have seen on vintage garments — and used on costumes — is the interior waistband or belt. This turn-of-the-century vintage bodice had one.

Elaborate lace and ribbon trimmed this ToC bodice (with a strangely skimpy skirt.)

Inside, a belt (never meant to be seen) was attached to the seams at center back. It closed at center front, and would be the first thing the wearer fastened when getting dressed.

Interior belt or waistband on a Turn of Century [ToC] bodice.

As Janet Arnold sketched the insides and outsides of museum garments, she drew many bodices that used an interior belt.

Interior waistband or belt, drawn by Janet Arnold.

Notice that the belt is only secured to the center back seams, with characteristic X stitches. It closes with hooks and bars at center front. It anchors the bodice to the wearer’s waist, so the bodice cannot ride up. It also holds the bodice in place while the many concealed hooks, eyes, and tapes are fastened. It takes some of the strain at the tightest spot, so the wearer doesn’t have to exert much pull on the more delicate fabrics to fasten them.

The interior belt works well on corsets.

I have seen and used these belts on the inside of corsets — what a great difference they make!

When you lace your own corset after fastening the front busk, you can’t be sure of getting it the same size every time. (Corsets rarely meet in the back.) Delineator,  April 1914.

First, the interior belt closing gives a constant size for the corset. You can’t accidentally lace it looser by mistake. If your dresses have been made to fit perfectly over your corset, but the corset lacing never actually meets at the waist, there’s always a chance that you will tighten your laces, put on your dress, and find that the dress doesn’t fit properly, because you pulled the laces too tight — or allowed yourself a bit more room than you did at the dress fitting.

Janet Arnold’s illustration of the interior of a woman’s dress, circa 1896. From Patterns of Fashion Vol 2. [***Fun fact: Arnold discovered that those huge leg-o-mutton sleeves were stuffed with paper!]

Secondly, when there is a waist belt inside your corset, the belt contracts your waist to the right size for fastening the front busk. The belt takes the strain (and keeps your corset from falling to the floor), giving you two hands free to hook the busk at the waist. Once the corset is fastened there, hooking it the rest of the way up and down is relatively easy. You may not need to deal with the laces at all.

The interior belt is can be made of a non-stretchable ribbon, like grosgrain.

The belt is also a great help in supporting the weight of the skirt; in many period dresses most of the skirt fullness is at the back, so the skirt of the dress can be quite heavy, and hard to wrestle with when its weight pulls the bodice crooked as you try to deal with dozens of fastenings.

Interior of dress from 1913-14 drawn by Janet Arnold. The skirt is sewn to the bodice only at one side. A row of hooks and bars connects the skirt to the bodice on the other side. (You can see two bars below “CF.” Arnold drew every hook.)

This circa 1913 dress (which combines lace, fur, chiffon and other materials) has an elaborate arrangement of closures, all of which would be hidden when the dress is worn. Notice that the skirt is only sewn to the bodice on its right side. The interior belt holds the bodice in the correct place and helps to support the weight of the skirt, while the left side of the skirt is slowly attached, hook by hook, to the left side of the bodice! [I think this one needed the help of a maid to deal with the skirt back and that big bow.]

Detail of Arnold’s drawing of the dress from 1913-14; no closures are visible, as the built-in sash hides the places where the skirt is only hooked to the bodice. The skirt is fur-trimmed.

The use of an interior belt is not restricted to the Victorian era. It remains part of the interior structure on couture when needed. It might be used, for example, to prevent tight jackets’ buttons straining against buttonholes at the waist, or to prevent too much strain on a zipper.

I can’t swear this famous Christian Dior New Look suit’s interior structure uses a belt, specifically, but something is preventing “pull” on the buttons. Click here for a great essay on “New Look” construction techniques.

You can see an interior belt — sewn in, not hanging free — on the waist of this gray dress from Dior’s fall-winter collection of 1955:

This Dior dress from 1955 is lying open on a table, positioned so you can see one end of the interior waistband; it matches the gray of the dress, which is flat-lined with gray organza.

At the place where the dress fits most tightly, the strain is taken by the belt rather than the zipper, which is visible to the right of the belt.

Christian Dior label, “Automne-Hiver 1955.” Charcoal gray dress with matching bolero jacket. Photographed from a private collection. The owner mentioned that this dress was made during Dior’s lifetime.

Digression: [I can’t not show you other pictures of this ensemble, even though I’m straying from my “interior belt” topic!]

You can see the unusual seam lines and darts on the jacket, which also has an interesting vertical buttonhole treatment.

Bolero jacket from Christian Dior, 1955. The matching dress has a full skirt pleated at the waist.

With the bolero jacket unbuttoned, the use of a separate panel to create “buttonholes” can be seen.

No, this buttonhole construction is not as care-free as it may look:

Inside view of Dior buttonhole in the bolero from 1955. The seams on the front of the jacket are not the same as those on the inside, and the buttonhole is reinforced like this.

Here, the interesting seams of the cap sleeve are visible. The back of the dress, with zipper, is visible at right.

Back to the topic of researching the insides of clothes you need to re-create, and the interior belt….

Arnold studied this dress from 1915-16 inside and out. If you were planning to copy it, you might think the outside tells the whole story — bodice and skirt both gathered at the waist.

A circa 1915 dress in a museum collection, drawn and its construction analyzed by Janet Arnold. Note the way a series of tiny tucks curves the sleeve forward.

Text describing the dress mentions that is would have been worn over a corset like this one.

The interior, drawn by Janet Arnold, shows that the scalloped dress in not as simple as it looks.

It has an under bodice, a hidden closure in front, a skirt that is partially attached to the bodice and partially hung from hooks and bars, and an interior belt that is boned and tightly fitted.

Arnold gives you a scale drawing of every part of the dress. This is what the under bodice of net looks like:

Like many vintage dresses which are bloused, this one has an under bodice. See French Linings. The bodice itself has kimono sleeves without armhole seams.

Arnold’s scale drawing of the interior belt on the scalloped dress. “The Petersham is shrunk in at the top to 26 1/2 inches, the bottom edge measures 27 1/2 “

Petersham ribbon looks much like grosgrain, but grosgrain cannot be stretched with steam and pressure. Petersham is often used in hat bands because it can be shaped into a slight curve with a steam iron.

I cannot praise Arnold’s Pattern of Fashion books too highly. Even if you choose not to duplicate her scaled patterns exactly, you will gain insight into period (and couture) construction that is invaluable.

I used to watch 1950s’ movies and wonder how a slender belt with no practical buckle could dig into an actress’s waist to compress it even more than her “merry widow” corset. Here is Elizabeth Taylor in a dress that really squeezes her waist. Janet Leigh’s wedding dress has a belt that might squeeze her that hard — although eventually the hole in the belt would start to tear…. Unless there was an even tighter belt inside those dresses….  “Ya think?”

 

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Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1940s-1950s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Dresses, Musings, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Riding Habits, 1910

Horseback riding, cover of Delineator magazine, May 1910.

Riding coat pattern 3773, Butterick; from Delineator, April 1910. It is not very different from an ordinary suit jacket, except for the fuller skirt.

Butterick coat 3765, Delineator, April 1910.

This girl wears a long or 7/8ths coat to cover her riding breeches.

Riding coat (and breeches) for a teen-aged girl, left, and a sailor suit for her little brother. Butterick patterns in Delineator, March 1910.

A woman on horseback had formal and informal clothing choices in 1910. This riding habit in the Victoria and Albert Museum was made by a leading London tailor/designer in 1911:

A lady’s riding habit made by Redfern for Mrs. James Fraser, 1911. Courtesy V&A museum.

London Society Fashion is beautifully illustrated with garments from one young lady’s wardrobe: Heather Firbank. Read about the surprising life of Heather Firbank and see some of her designer clothing at the blog of Tessa Boase. Click here.

Detail of magazine cover by P. E (?) Williams, Delineator, May 1910. Notice the lady’s erect posture as opposed to the man’s forward slouch.

It’s possible that the illustrator of the magazine was more interested in the graphic possibilities of white than in accuracy, but Delineator did feature patterns for women’s riding habits in 1910.

Butterick riding suit for girls 8 to 16, pattern 3636. March 1910.

I find it interesting that this teenage girl is riding astride, while the adult woman shown in April is riding sidesaddle.

Riding coat and matching breeches, Butterick 3636 for girls 8 to 16.

The riding coat and skirt for adult women (up to size 42 bust) were sold separately:

Butterick riding coat 3773 was shown with a specialized skirt for riding sidesaddle.

Delineator, page 304, April 1910.

Delineator, page 304, equestrian skirt detail; April 1910:

Safety Equestrian Skirt 3717, for riding sidesaddle. Does it have a breakaway strap?

Detail of the inside of the safety equestrian skirt. Delineator, April 1910.

If you can figure out how this skirt appears very full (as in top image) and very narrow (as here,) you are way ahead of me. But then, I know nothing about riding sidesaddle!

Is it possible that she is wearing long underwear instead of riding breeches under the skirt? In that case, she will not be safe from embarrassment if she’s thrown. At any rate, no breeches are included in the pattern.

The boy shown riding a donkey is not actually dressed for riding — he is probably at a beach resort where donkey rides were a seaside attraction. The sailor suit in many variations was standard clothing for boys.

A boy enjoying a ride — presumably a slow, easy ride — on a donkey. Delineator, March 1910.

Butterick pattern 3688 shows two variations on a sailor or pseudo-military suit for boys ages 4 to 10. March 1910.

The swastika is an ancient symbol with religious meaning for people in India and for Native Americans. It’s used facing both directions on the back of the sailor collar. In 1910, it had no association with Nazis.

Here is my uncle, Harris Barton, in a sailor suit His father was a tinsmith, or plumber. (It might be my Uncle Mel, born a few years later….)

Probably Frank Harris Barton of California, born 1894.

(Yes, my uncle,  in spite of those luxurious curls!) Harris was born in 1894.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Boys' Clothing, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, Edwardian fashions, Hairstyles, Sportswear, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Winter Underwear, 1880s to 1920s

Detail from and ad for Munsingwear knit undergarments, Delineator,  September, 1927.

Frau Buttonbox asked what women wore under those 1920’s dresses in the winter — and how they protected their dresses from sweat and body oils. I have some ads to share!

Just for vocabulary, in the U.S., a one piece knit suit like this was called a “union suit” (proper name) or “long johns” (common name.)

This wool union suit was recommended by dress-reformer Annie Jenness-Miller in 1888.

In 1880’s England, Dr. Jaeger’s theory that wearing wool next to the skin (instead of plant fibers like linen or cotton) was good for health was championed by dress reformers and George Bernard Shaw.

My uncle Bert (like Garrison Keillor’s “Norwegian Bachelor Farmers”) came from a generation (b. 1899) that believed that a hot bath would “open your pores” to admit disease, so he wore long johns from September to March. My stepmother insisted that he wash them (and himself) from time to time if he wanted to eat dinner with us. Whew!

Women’s union suit from Sears catalog, Fall 1918.
By 1916, skirts were getting shorter, but lace-up boots would have hidden the legs of this underwear. Notice the short sleeves.

Ladies’ shoes from Sears catalog, 1918.

Wool, needed for army uniforms, was hard to get in the U.S. in 1917-1918. Note the overlapping “open” back.

The problem with fashionable clothing is that it is usually the opposite of practical clothing — so women who want to be fashionable usually have to sacrifice some comfort — and common sense.

By the mid-1920s, skirts were reaching the knee, and bare arms were expected with evening dresses and dinner dresses. Nevertheless, many dining rooms (even in mansions) were unheated.

Ad for Forest Mills long underwear, Delineator, November 1925. The union suit on the left could be worn under day dresses. These models look like teens.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/1925-oct-p-27-500-dpi-whole-color-page.jpg?w=398&h=500

Winter clothes for teens and small women, October 1925. Delineator.

Under evening dress, your torso could be warm, but your arms had to be bare.

Combed cotton knit underwear from Sears, 1927 catalog. You could wear a silk or rayon slip over these, under your dress.

Butterick 5755, 5714, 5713, Delineator, January 1925, page 29.

Evening dresses for teens, January 1925.

“It s no longer necessary to shiver through the long winter months in order to be stylishly dressed.”

“Keep your body warm.” Ad for Forest Mills knit underwear, Delineator, November 1925. The ad doesn’t state fiber content, but knits made for a smooth, “no bumps” fit.

“Underwear that will not only absorb perspiration, but will keep your body from being chilled.”

The Forest Mills underwear shown in the photograph is not much different in style from silk underwear (slips, camisole and bloomers) sold by Sears, but knit underwear fit more smoothly.

Silk underwear from Sears catalog, Fall 1927. Silk or rayon bloomers came to just above the knee.

Carter’s, a company that made rayon knit underwear, ran a whole series of ads that showed couture fashions next to pictures of models (in the same poses) wearing Carter’s underwear. I don’t now how warm it was, but it did fit very closely.

Detail of an ad for Carter’s rayon knit underwear, Delineator, November 1926. Premet and Poiret were famous Paris Couturiers. That’s a Poiret model above.

Detail of 1927 ad for Carter’s underwear. The model wears Poiret; at right she poses in her Carter’s underwear.

“Poiret’s black and gold gown” and silk cape, pictured in an ad for Carter’s underwear, November 1927. Poiret was very influential in the 1910’s, but falling out of favor by the late 1920’s.

Detail from an ad for Carter’s knit underwear, November 1927. Smooth, one-piece fit.

Right, back view of a one-piece union suit; left, a camisole “vest” and bloomers. Carter’s rayon knit undergarments, ad from 1926.

Premet’s “Vampire” dress, with Carter’s combination underwear to go under it. April, 1928. That dress would have permitted a much warmer undergarment.

The gold and white brocade hostess gown is by Drecoll; the underwear is Carter’s “vest and bloomer” of rayon knit. Ad from May 1927. The House of Worth also participated in this ad campaign.

As to keeping clothes free of perspiration stains and odor, deodorants were available (and ruined the armpits of many a vintage garment….) A solution still used in theatrical costumes, and by those allergic to certain chemicals, is the dress shield.

1910 ad for Kleinert’s dress shields. Delineator.

Ad for OMO dress shields, a rival to Kleinert’s. March 1910, Delineator.

Dress shields were usually safety pinned or basted into place in the armholes of a dress or jacket.

1920 Kleinert’s dress shield ad. You can see that this shield is curved at the top to follow the shape of the bottom of the armhole; it folds over the underarm seam, extending into the dress and into the sleeve.

Costumers sew in snaps so the shields can be changed and washed.  Some women preferred to wear a bra or guimpe-like washable garment which included the shields.

Top of a Kleinert’s dress shield ad, Woman’s Home Companion, March 1937.

The Kleinert’s website (the company is still in business) explains:

“Before The Advent Of Deodorants & Antiperspirants The Dress Shield Was The Way To Protect Your Garments From Sweat & Odor. In 1869 Kleinert’s Invented the Dress & Garment Shield Category Which Is Still In Use Today Protecting Our Clothes & Saving Us From Embarrassing Situations Due To Sweat Stains & Odors. Trust Kleinert’s Quality & History To Keep You Dry Throughout The Day. Choose Below From Our Selection Of Fine Dress Shields.” Kleinerts.com

The shields come in different shapes for differently cut armholes. Now you can get disposable ones — and in a costume emergency I have cut self-adhesive pantiliners to stick in the underarms of a costume.

Bottom of Kleinert’s dress shield ad from March 1937, WHC.

I’ve mentioned this before: actors sweat, and stage actors have to wear their costume(s) for eight performances per week. It’s not good for a wool suit to be dry-cleaned every week; underwear protects the costume, but a changeable shield under each arm keeps the suit from getting wet at all. Undershirts and shirts, etc., are laundered daily — in fact, Equity actors have duplicates supplied so they don’t ever have to put on a shirt that is still damp from the matinee performance. (Ditto for all other items that touch the skin.)

Full page, full-color Kleinert’s ad, March 1924. Delineator.

Unsexy as a dress shield may be, it’s preferable to ruining a $2000 dress or destroying it by too-frequent dry cleaning. Bonus: you can raise your arms and never show a sweat ring.

Camisole and bloomers from Munsingwear ad, September 1927, Delineator.

P.S. [Edited 1/6/2019] Liza D at BVD sent a photo of the Kleinert’s dress shields she found in a vintage garment (Thanks, Liza!) :

Liza D found these used dress shields in a vintage garment. Those ugly stains would have been on the blouse if the woman who wore it hadn’t used these in the underarms. Click here for Liza’s post about it.

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Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Late Victorian fashions, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Panties knickers bloomers drawers step-ins, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

How to Make Gray Hair Look Its Best, 1910

This post is for Lynn, who writes American Age Fashion, a blog dedicated to a usually neglected topic: “what older American women wore, 1900 to now.” (Lynn does not have white hair, but I do.)

Side and back views of a hair style for older women; Delineator, January 1910. The ornament implies that this is a style for evening, although the model is not wearing an evening dress.

Bottom of a full page of hair styles for gray-haired women. From the article, “How to Make Gray Hair Look Its Best,” Delineator, January 1910.

Here is the accompanying text:

“If there is any poetry in hair, it exists quite as truly in the silver tresses of our mothers as in the much-lauded golden and Titian tints.

“Because hair is gray does not mean that it has lost its beauty. On the contrary, many a woman finds white hair her crowning glory, while the possibilities for becoming arrangement provided by present styles allow her to appear quite as well coiffured as any younger woman. A variety of ways in which she may arrange her hair is shown.

A coil at the back of the head….” This one is kept in place by a large, curved comb.

“Where the hair is worn parted….”

“A coil at the back or top of the head, where [when] the hair is worn parted, has all of the charm of such simple arrangement, while the braid-coil is equally pleasing.

“…The braid coil is equally pleasing ….” This is a pompadour style, with softly curled bangs.

“Many find the pompadour becoming, and the short bangs curled across the forehead are not only fashionable but very softening in effect.

A smaller pompadour, also with bangs.

“A few puffs may be prettily arranged at the top or back of the head.

“A few puffs may be arranged at the top or back of the head….”

The sides are not enormous, but the “puffs” give height. I can imagine this hairstyle being possible without the use of purchased hair.

“Thin hair may be matched and supplemented with a braid, some curls, or bangs.

Thin hair may be supplemented….” [You think?] “Big Hair” like this required some invisible padding and/or purchased hair pieces.

“As to adornments which the elderly woman may use, gray combs, a simple knot of ribbon, or small jetted ornaments are always in good taste.”

Parted hair, wide at the sides; a comb, rather than hair, adds height.

This hair ornament is not quite a “simple knot of ribbon….” Since many older women wore mourning, black jet hair ornaments were often worn, but these appear more glittery.

The back view of this hair-do with ornament shows a cluster of curls — and a surprising amount of hair!

Women needed a huge mass of hair to fill in under — and sometimes to support — the gigantic hats of 1910.

Big hair at the back under a big hat. 1910.

Styles which had a huge mass of hair low at the back were worn by young and old. 1910.

Although it is very full and thick everywhere, this young woman’s hair extends quite far in back.

A coil or braid worn low on the neck worked with big hats….

Hair fills in the space under a big turban hat. Delineator cover, detail, March 1910.

A young model wears most of her hair at the back of the head, with a ribbon securing it. This was a style copied from classical statues.

Photograph of Mrs. Clara E. Simcox, Paris fashion columnist for Delineator magazine, 1910.

Although my hair is both white and long, I have never had that much hair!

Neither did they.

Hair Goods for Big Hairstyles

Women could buy a “turban braid” of real hair from Mrs. Negrescou. Ad, 1910. “Very fashionable and largely worn with the new turban hats…. Can be braided, puffed, or curled.”

A hair braid could be ordered by mail — on approval.  Ad for Anna Ayers hair goods, “high grade switches, pompadours, wigs, puffs, etc.” Delineator ad, Jan 1910.

Hair switch from a Paris Fashions hair goods ad, Delineator, February 1910. On offer: “Chignon Coiffure, full back piece, curly hair, dresses in 14 puffs” and “Pompadour, Natural Curly.”

Buying a switch on approval guaranteed you could return it if the color didn’t match.

Ad for Burnham’s 30 to 36 inch long hair switches, turban frame,  pads, etc. Delineator, June 1910. “We can match your hair exactly.”

Ad for the Austin-Walker patented Hairlight Turbanette, May 1910.

By brushing your own hair over a frame like the Hairlight Turbanette, or a “rat” or pad made by stuffing your own hair combings into a hairnet, a huge pompadour could be created.

Ad for E. Burnham hair goods, January 1910.

“The ‘fullness’ of this headdress is produced by the “Puffer-Fluffer,’ $10.”  Also available: Billie Burke curls, Pompon curls, Daphne Puffs, the new Turban Braid… “Gray and extra shades cost 50% more.” [edited 12/16/18 — I should have put that in boldface, because several ads had the same “gray hair costs more” message in the fine print.]

Hair Styles for Young and Old

I wondered whether the hair styles for gray haired women were different from those for younger women and girls. Of course, only young girls and early teens wore their hair down:

Schoolgirls often wore huge ribbons (top center), increasing the size of the head area. Usually girls didn’t put their hair up (off the neck) until they were 16 or older. The hair style at lower left would be easy to transform into a style with the braid coiled at the back.

The older teens at right and left have put their hair up in adult hair styles. The schoolgirl wears a really wide bow.

But women in the prime of life certainly did wear huge pompadours, sometimes with bangs, braids, puffs, etc.

Pompadour hair styles illustrated in Delineator, early 1910.

Young and old wore styles that massed their hair low in back. 1910 illustrations, Delineator.

Very wide hairstyles, and styles with a center or side part were worn.

Often the hair style was necessary to the hat styles:

Photos of fashionable hates, complimented by big hair-dos. 1910, Delineator.

In this advertisement, left, a woman is working in her kitchen, in a hair style that is in fashion, but of a believable size. I suspect that the woman on the right is also wearing a practical, everyday style — which may be all her own hair.

Left, illustration from an Ivory Soap ad; right, hairstyle for gray hair, both 1910.

Speaking of working women — these nurses show that big hair was also worn with tiny nurses caps!

Three nurses in an ad for the Chautauqua School of Nursing. April, 1910.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Hairstyles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

French Lining

French lining pattern 6933 from Butterick. Delineator, June 1914, p. 74. It has princess seams and many neckline options.

As far as I can tell, a French lining is a closely fitting interior structure that is usually not the same shape as the finished garment we see. It is different from “flat lining,” or a “dropped in” lining shaped like the dress or skirt, or a coat lining that merely allows the coat to slide over other fabrics more easily.

“A French lining gives a perfection of fit that can be attained by no other means…. It makes an excellent foundation for the draped waists [blouses] now in vogue…. For stout figures a French lining is almost indispensable, and this design will prove most welcome, for it conforms to the newest lines. When made of thin material it may be used as a foundation for Summer dresses or waists, and when made of lawn or silk it is also an excellent foundation for the draped evening dresses now worn.” — Delineator, June 1914. p. 74

Delineator, June 1914, p. 74.

When you have a garment that is tightly fitted, “flat lining” [a lining whose pieces are the same shape as the fashion fabric and are sewed at the same time] will take some of the stress off the seams and the fashion fabric. But when you see a vintage garment that fits very closely in back, but appears to be loosely fitted in front, expect a French lining.

Inside this apparently loose-fitting bodice is a tight-fitting inner structure. Vintage garment.

This vintage bodice has no visible opening. The tight lining prevents “pull” on the fashion fabric’s concealed closure.

When you have a garment that is draped, or bloused, or which has complicated concealed closures, it will behave better with an invisible, body-hugging lining.

This vintage dress does not have a visible opening in front or down the back. It does not have a snap opening in the side seam.

How do you get into it?

Back of vintage lingerie dress. It doesn’t open down the back. Clue: There is a hook and eye closing on the left shoulder.

This sheer lingerie dress with a blouson top has a simple French lining made of net.

How do you get into this dress?

The bias cut lining, which takes the strain of the hooks and eyes, fastens at the center front.

The pattern for the inside of the dress is not the same shape as the pattern for the fashion layer. I would class this as a simple French lining.

The lining fastens at center front; the fashion fabric layer fastens with hooks and bars at the side and shoulder! The sleeves are attached to the French lining. The skirt opens at side front.

The “French Lining” pattern could be purchased separately, but was often included in a dress or blouse pattern.

The Commercial Pattern Archive has this Butterick pattern from 1914.

Butterick 7317; information from the pattern envelope, courtesy of CoPA (The Commercial Pattern Archive.) Notice how different the French lining pattern pieces (top center) are from the fashion fabric pieces (at the bottom.)

Left, the French lining is an 8 piece princess line pattern which fits closely to the body.

The French lining was meant to fit very tightly, and is the support for the fashion fabrics. It ensures that the weight of the dress is suspended from the shoulders, that the folds and blousing aren’t pulled out of place, and that the wearer always looks neat as a fashion plate. In No. 7317, the cross-over drape in front ties at center back.

Changing Body Shapes Seen in French Lining Patterns

These French lining patterns reflect the changing body shape as corsets changed.

1910: Butterick French lining pattern 3527, January 1910. Note the “sway back” shape caused by 1910 corsets. This princess seamed lining has 4 panels in front and 6 in back.

1914: Butterick French lining 6933 from June 1914. The lower bust and larger waist reflect a change in corset shape.

1917: Far right, French lining pattern 1042 from Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1917. The womanly torso is losing its curves.

1924: A French lining pattern from Butterick, July 1924. “…An excellent dress lining or… it can be used to cover a dress form.” It probably was intended for older or “stout” women, since 1920’s dresses were lighter and less structured than previous styles. It has a long, hip-length, waistless shape, like most Twenties’ dresses. Butterick 5361 came in sizes 32 to 48 bust.

French Lining Included in Patterns

The French lining is often based on a princess seamed pattern (like all of those above,) since this permits an extremely tight fit, perfectly contoured to the body. (A French lining also looks very much like the covering of a professional dressmaker’s mannequin.) When you are draping on a professional dress form, you can feel the underlying seams through your muslin — very handy for locating the exact bust point or side seam, or placing a dart.

Once the French lining was perfectly fitted to a woman’s body, she could also use it to figure out (Oops, accidental pun!) alterations to commercial patterns.

[I was taught to call an individually fitted basic pattern a “sloper;” they’re handy to have if you are making multiple costumes for the same actor — or several pairs of trousers for yourself! Fitting patterns are still sold.]

Butterick waist 6791; Delineator, April 1914.

Incredibly, the Commercial Pattern Archive at University of Rhode Island has the pattern for this waist! (If you just create a Log-in, you can use this wonderful site  — over 64,000 patterns and growing! — for free.) There’s always a link to CoPA in my “Sites with Great Information” sidebar.

Pattern pieces for Butterick 6791; Commercial Pattern Archive.

It’s no surprise that Butterick 7971 includes a French Lining.

You can almost guess from the illustrations which garments need a French lining: if you think, “That dress defies gravity! How can that be possible?” or “How did she get into that?” you are probably looking at a dress that has a French lining.

Fashion Plate, 1888-1889 from Metropolitan Museum Costume Plate collection. Below the wrapped outer bodice is a concealed side-front closing.

There are no visible openings on these late 1880’s dresses. Met Museum collection.

They definitely did not have a zipper down the back! A tight fit in back and a concealed opening usually means a French lining; you can probably deduce the rest….

Vintage garment with very full front. The lace was accented with large French knots. It does not have a visible opening in front or in back.

Butterick 3816, Delineator, May 1910.

Butterick 3816, May 1910. The gathers are stitched to the lining; they won’t slide around or come untucked, and the V’s in back and front will never gape.

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Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, Costumes for the 19th century, Dresses, Edwardian fashions, Late Victorian fashions, Resources for Costumers, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns

A Dead End in Fashion, 1920

Butterick dress patterns for June, 1920. Delineator magazine.

In fashion, trial balloons are sent up all the time. Some take off into the stratosphere, and some quietly deflate and are forgotten. As far as I can tell, it’s all about timing.
This dress pattern from 1920 got it half right:

Butterick dress pattern 2417, Delineator, June 1920.

Bodice of Butterick 2417 from 1920. Another “Chinese” influenced top from 1920 can be seen here.

The sleeveless look, the sheer embroidered Georgette, and the horizontal line at the hip became standard for evening wear a few years later.

Sleeveless, embroidered evening dress; Butterick 1090, December 1926.

The loose, unfitted, hip-length top turned out to be the look of the future.

Butterick blouse pattern 5172, April 1924. Delineator.

The bottom part of dress 2417, however, was another story,

The skirt of dress 2417 from 1920 didn’t become mainstream fashion. [I heave a sigh of relief….]

“The drawn-in effect achieved by the plaits at the lower part is new…. ” I think those may be tassels on the front pleats. The other pleats (tucks, really) are stitched down. “Lower edge when falling free [is] 1  3/4 yard.”  With 6 or eight stitched-down pleats on each side, it would be considerably less.

Alternate view of Butterick 2417.

Hobble skirts which made wearers take tiny steps were a hit in earlier in the century — this image is from 1911 — but our 1920 version didn’t suit the increasing freedom of women, who were used to plenty of leg-room by 1916.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/chanel-1916-bell-plate-39-from-fashion-through-fashion-plates-doris-langley-moore.jpg?w=500

Designs by Gabrielle Chanel, dated 1916 [from Doris Langley Moore’s Fashion through Fashion Plates via Quentin Bell.] No need to take mincing little steps in these skirts!

The mid-Twenties’ shape was narrow and unfitted…

These dresses from July 1925 have shapeless, hip-length tops like No. 2417, but are at least as wide at the hem as at the hip, with room for walking.

Butterick dresses for young women; Delineator, September 1925.

… but Mid-Twenties’ skirts didn’t start out wide and then get tighter near the hem, like No. 2417.

Butterick dress pattern 2417, Delineator, June 1920.

Just another fashion dead end!

Advertisement for satin, April 1920. A large end, and a dead end, too.

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Ten Blouses from 1920

A blouse and skirt combination from March, 1920. Delineator, page 135.

Blouse patterns were featured in May and June Delineator magazines. You’ll see those tasseled rope belts on several of them. Some of the overblouses are quite long.

Butterick blouse 2350 has raglan sleeves and front and sleeve lacing.

Butterick blouse 2362 looks like two garments, but the center panel is a “vestee.” May, 1928.

Blouse 2381 has a distinctly Twenties’ look:

Blouse 2381 is relatively shapeless. It’s a hint of later Twenties’ styles; the kimono sleeves are cut in one with the blouse and the hem reaches the hip.

The short, frilled sleeves came back in 1929 -1930.

Butterick blouse 2385 from Delineator, May, 1920, p. 150.

Butterick blouse pattern 2347, Delineator, May 1920, page 150.

Although the model’s face is young, this blouse has a “mature” feeling to me —  and it was available up to bust size 46.

Back views of the patterns from Delineator, May 1920, p. 150. 2385 has a two-pointed swallowtail back. 2381 looks very different with a square neck, hip band, and long sleeves.  The fronts can be seen here:

Blouses from Butterick patterns, Delieator, May 1920, page 150. From left, 2350, 2385, 2362, 2381, 2347.

Another group of blouses appeared in June:

Butterick blouse pattern 2415 from Delineator, June 1920, page 110. It does not have a sailor collar, although the tie suggests a girl’s middy.  There is nothing sporty about those cuffs! Note the contrasting bias trim.

Butterick 2434 from June 1920. This shape is similar to a beaded and appliqued vintage blouse you can read about here.

Butterick blouse 2401 from June 1920. It’s  slightly different from May’s  No. 2362, which had a yoke effect at the shoulders.

Long blouse 2407 was described as “Chinese.”

Butterick blouse 2426, June 1920, Delineator.

Five blouses from Delineator, June 1920, page 110.  Top left, 2434; center, 2415, top right, 2401; bottom left, 2426, bottom right, 2407.

Back views of blouses from June 1920, page 110.

Blouse 2214 (not one of the ten) was featured in color in March, 1920. I included it to show two of the skirts that might have been worn with these blouses.

A blouse and skirt combination from March, 1920. Blouse 2214 with skirt 2170. Delineator, page 135.

Pleated skirts or narrow skirts could be worn with these blouses.

The drawing of these 1920 faces and hairstyles is also interesting  — worth a second look.

Edit 11/28/18: Here is the pattern description of blouse 2214 and skirt 2170.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes